Asawin Suebsaeng

Asawin Suebsaeng

Reporter

Asawin Suebsaeng is a reporter at the Washington, DC, bureau of Mother Jones. He has also written for The American Prospect, the Bangkok Post, and Shoecomics.com.

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A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., Asawin came back to DC with hopes of putting his flimsy Creative Writing major, student newspaper tenure, and interest in human rights and political chicanery to some use. He started cutting his teeth at F&M's student-run weekly, The College Reporter, serving as editor in chief. He has interned at The American Prospect, been a reporter for the Bangkok Post, and scribbled for ShoeComics.com. His favorite movie is either Apocalypse Now or Pirahna 3D, depending on the day or mood.

In the Context of "1,000 Years" of Warfare, Drones Are "More Humane"

| Mon Feb. 11, 2013 12:59 PM PST

Last week, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) gave a sort of backhanded defense of the Obama administration's controversial targeted killing program.

"To be honest, I believe that drones are a lot more civilized than what we used to do, you know, when Sherman shelled Atlanta or when the Allies firebombed Dresden in World War II, it was all collateral damage. It was virtually all civilians. And that was the way of war until very recently," King said on Friday's episode of MSNBC's Morning Joe. "The drones, although there is some collateral damage, basically is a very smart artillery shell...[I]f you put it in a context of 1,000 years of war, I think it's actually a more humane weapon because it can be targeted to specific enemies and specific people."

Of course, that doesn't have much to do with drone critics' actual arguments, and Sen. King was wise enough to point that out during his interview: "Now, I do think there’s a problem...about targeting Americans. There is this little item of the Fifth Amendment that says no person shall be denied life, liberty or property without due process of law."

But King's initial point is unimpeachably true: When you look at the history of warfare between 1013 A.D. and now, it's hard to come to the conclusion that drone warfare is any more barbaric or indiscriminate than what humanity has become used to over the past ten centuries. For instance:

when the normans invaded ireland in 1169

norman invasion ireland
Land was taken, the regime was changed, and much brutality was exacted with swords. Via the University of Alabama at Birmingham

 

 When Pope Innocent III launched the tw0-decade Albigensian Crusade

cathars crusade albigensian crusade
It's this particularly horrific crusade that gave birth to the phrase, "Kill them all; let God sort them out." Via Wikimedia Commons

 

that time the Qing Dynasty put down the Taiping Rebellion between 1850 and 1864

taiping rebellion
20 million killed, mostly civilians. Via Wikimedia Commons

 

when america went to the philippines...

philippine american war atrocities
Click here for a rundown of American atrocities during the war. Via New York Journal

 

napalm

napalm vietnam us
Napalm during the Vietnam War has a remarkably ugly legacy.

 

US-backED death squads

el mozote massacre memorial


IRAQ

iraq war
Staff Sgt. Sean A. Foley/US Army

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"Movie & An Argument" Podcast: Musicals, Soviets, and Kevin Spacey

| Fri Feb. 8, 2013 3:25 PM PST

On this week's episode of A Movie & An Argument, With Alyssa Rosenberg & Asawin Suebsaeng, we discuss (scroll down for audio):

  • House of Cards, a new political drama released on Netflix, starring Kevin Spacey as a power-hungry US congressman.
  • The second season of NBC's Broadway-based drama Smash.
  • The Americans, a new dramatic series on FX that follows a married pair of Soviet spies in Washington, DC at the dawn of the Reagan era.

Listen:

Each week, I'll be sitting down to chat with ThinkProgress critic Alyssa Rosenberg (who also does killer work at The Atlantic and Slate's "Double X"). We'll talk, argue, and laugh about the latest movies, television shows, and pop-cultural nonsense—with some politics thrown in just for the hell of it.

Alyssa describes herself as being "equally devoted to the Star Wars expanded universe and Barbara Stanwyck, to Better Off Ted and Deadwood." I (everyone calls me Swin) am a devoted lover of low-brow dark humor, Yuengling, and movies with high body counts. I hope you enjoyed this episode, and tune in during the weeks to come.

We'll be featuring guests on the program, and also taking listeners' questions, so feel free to Tweet them at me here, and we'll see if we can get to them during a show.

Thank you for listening!

Click here for more movie and TV features from Mother Jones. To read more of Asawin's reviews, click here.

To find more episodes of this podcast, click here.

To check out Alyssa's Bloggingheads show, click here.

Report: These 54 Foreign Governments Helped the CIA Torture, Detain, and Transport Suspects After 9/11

| Tue Feb. 5, 2013 4:01 PM PST

On Tuesday, the Open Society Justice Initiative released a 212-page report that details international assistance to US covert action related to controversial Bush-era anti-terror policy. The report (PDF), titled "Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition," identifies 136 people who were captured or transferred by the Central Intelligence Agency, and lists available information about the detainees—both the Islamist operatives and the completely innocent.

"Globalizing Torture" also provides an annotated list of the dozens of foreign governments that played roles in the CIA's secret program in the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. These governments provided crucial support in facilitating the CIA and Bush administration's war on Al Qaeda by, according to the report:

[H]osting CIA prisons on their territories; detaining, interrogating, torturing, and abusing individuals; assisting in the capture and transport of detainees; permitting the use of domestic airspace and airports for secret flights transporting detainees; providing intelligence leading to the secret detention and extraordinary rendition of individuals; and interrogating individuals who were secretly being held in the custody of other governments. Foreign governments also failed to protect detainees from secret detention and extraordinary rendition on their territories and to conduct effective investigations into agencies and officials who participated in these operations.

Here are the 54 listed, in alphabetical order:

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • The Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • Gambia
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Libya
  • Lithuania
  • Macedonia
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Mauritania
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Syria
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen
  • Zimbabwe

Check out the full report here.

Obama's "Skeetgate," Explained

| Tue Feb. 5, 2013 9:44 AM PST

An official White House photo of the moment Obama decided to hatch a plan to fool the world with a story about habitual skeet shooting.

For the past week, you've probably heard a lot about President Obama and skeet shooting. Basically, what began as one offhanded remark in an interview with The New Republic has transmogrified into a billow of conspiracy theories, parody, and upsetting political discussion. Here is your guide to Skeetgate 2013:

Wait, what?

Good question.

This all started when Obama told The New Republic in an exclusive interview published online on Sunday, January 27 that he has "a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations," and that:

[U]p at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.

(In the wake of the Newtown school shooting, the president has been pushing initiatives and legislation aimed at reducing gun violence in America.)

This statement—a bold claim that Barack Obama has looked at, and has even touched, a firearm at any point in his liberal-left lifetime—kicked off a wave of strained credulity on the part of the American right.

What did the backlash look like?

At a press briefing on the day after TNR ran the story, White House press secretary Jay Carney responded to a question regarding why there aren't any publicly available photos of Obama skeet shooting at Camp David. (Carney addressed related skepticism yet again when he spoke with reporters aboard Air Force One exactly one week after.)

Unsurprisingly, Matt Drudge went ahead and did his thing:

"Warm Bodies": A Zombie Comedy With Lots of Romance and No Politics

| Fri Feb. 1, 2013 1:11 PM PST

Warm Bodies
Summit Entertainment
97 minutes

It's refreshing to see a zombie movie that isn't political in nature. Too often it seems as if every zombie (or zombie-ish) movie is a critique of consumer culture, or the War in Iraq, or widespread racism, or the federal government, or something else important.

Warm Bodies—based on this 2011 novel by Isaac Marion—is a zombie movie packed with synth-pop and classic rock that focuses on a forbidden love between a walking-dead male called "R" and a girl named Julie. (Get it???) The film takes place in a post-zombie-apocalypse America in which the humans hunker down in their fortress and the undead prowl the deserted cityscapes. "R" is a good-natured zombie who, as we learn through his voiceover narration, is always morally "conflicted" about his need to feed on human flesh and brains. After he meets Julie (during a bloodbath in an abandoned building during which "R" devours Julie's current boyfriend), they soon start a romance that sets off a chain reaction that alters the fate of the post-apocalyptic world forever.

Sun Apr. 20, 2014 8:00 PM PDT
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